World, Russia-Ukraine War

US launching 'observatory' to document rights abuses in Ukraine

Program to 'shine a light on atrocities and is intended to contribute to eventual prosecutions,' says State Dept. spokesman

Michael Gabriel Hernandez   | 17.05.2022
US launching 'observatory' to document rights abuses in Ukraine

WASHINGTON

The US launched a new online "conflict observatory" Tuesday that it said will be used to document evidence of rights abuses committed by Russia in Ukraine ahead of potential criminal prosecution. 

Conflictobservatory.org “will capture, analyze and make publicly available open-source information, and evidence of atrocities, human rights abuses and harm to civilian infrastructure, including Ukraine's cultural heritage," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

"The information collected by the conflict observatory will be a resource for the world to see the deplorable and brutal actions of Russia's forces against the Ukrainian people," he said.

"It will shine a light on atrocities and is intended to contribute to eventual prosecutions in Ukraine's domestic courts, courts in third party countries, US courts and other relevant tribunals," he added.

The announcement comes after US President Joe Biden publicly accused his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, of being a war criminal, and called for him to be held accountable in court after evidence, which appeared to depict mass atrocities in areas formerly held by Russia, came to light.

Russia denied carrying out atrocities in Bucha, the Ukrainian city it withdrew from in March amid a failed offensive to capture the capital city of Kyiv.

The website is a joint endeavor with mapping company Esri, Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative and PlanetScape Ai.

It is being founded with an initial $6 million investment, and additional funds are expected to come from the European Democratic Resilience Initiative, according to the State Department.

The US has also contributed commercial satellite imagery to bolster the program's efforts, it added in a statement.


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